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The Most Important Road Safety Rule for The Holidays: Arrive Alive!

by Lou-Ann Jordan Dec 4, 2023

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The Christmas holidays are an exciting and busy time for most. Usually, there are numerous activities on our social calendars: family gatherings, after-work meet-ups with friends, Christmas work dinners, etc. Often, we are on the nation’s roads to and from these events, sometimes having attended more than one back-to-back. Of course, we’ll likely enjoy a drink or two at such gatherings as we chat with our loved ones, friends, and colleagues.

Fortunately, many of us are conscientious about our alcohol consumption, choosing to abstain, stay well below intoxication limits or acquire a designated driver. Such practices are commendable, and they are critical in ensuring our and other motorists’ safety. Still, we need to be vigilant at this time of year because alcohol consumption tends to spike.

Therefore, we want to discuss a crucial aspect of road safety—driving under the influence. This topic is important because a 2020 report by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) states that in several Caribbean countries, more than half of all drinkers engage in heavy drinking behaviour. Of even greater concern was the observation that in our region, alcohol consumption could be attributed to one out of three road accidents for men and one out of five for women.

Furthermore, one of the key contributors to road traffic deaths is drinking and driving. With this in mind, we aim to help you think about ways to avoid alcohol-related road fatalities over the holidays. We want you to remember these points as you’re out and about since, wherever your destination, you want to ‘A.R.R.I.V.E. A.L.I.V.E’.

Avoid peer pressure. Don’t feel pressured by friends or family to drink, whatever your age.

Rather than splashing water on your face, drinking coffee, or driving with the windows down, time is the best remedy for getting sober.

Refrain from drinking on an empty stomach, as doing so will cause the alcohol to enter your bloodstream faster. Eat before, or even while drinking.

Impairment can occur without you “feeling” intoxicated. Pay attention, as you could be on the lower spectrum of drunkenness. For example, although you may not be stumbling, your vision may not be as clear as it should be, and your motor skills could be slowed.

Vet your drinking. Keep track of the number of drinks you’ve had and how long you’ve been drinking. It’s a good idea to stop two or three hours before leaving for your next destination.  

Exercise caution when drinking cocktails, as you can never be too sure how much alcohol they contain.

Assign a designated driver. If you are with a group, choose a driver for the evening. You can take turns if you plan to move with the same crew for various events over the holidays. Additionally, if you’re alone, arrange for a friend or taxi to collect you in advance.

Light beers such as pilsners or soft ciders are an excellent alternative to full-strength lagers to help you keep your wits about you. Another option is to switch between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Impairment is not reliant on what you had to drink but on how many drinks you consumed and when you did so.

Voice your concerns, if you’re uneasy about a friend’s soberness, speak up. Don’t let your friends drive intoxicated. Take their keys away if you must. Risk their momentary displeasure.

Enjoy your holiday celebrations with your family and friends, but be careful. Be alert on the roads and keep an eye out for drunk drivers. Remember, the goal is to ‘arrive alive!’

Sources: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, DoSomething.org, Judnich Law Office and Royal Automobile Club of Victoria.